Brandon Mahone takes Chicago roots to 'The Voice'

When Brandon Mahone took the stage for his blind audition, singing the Temptations' classic "I Wish it Would Rain," it only took about 20 seconds for "The Voice" judge Adam Levine to swing his chair around to take a look at the 18-year-old former Chicago resident. Mahone recently moved to Indianapolis due to the violence in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood where he grew up, but still claims roots in the city.

RedEye talked to Mahone about his relocation, growing up in Chicago and his audition experience. "The Voice" begins its battle rounds at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 on NBC.

What made you want to use that song for your audition?
Well, I've been singing that song ever since I was 8 years old. My grandparents played The Temptations a lot, and that song really stuck out for me. When I was able to go to "The Voice" for the blind audition I was like, "I should sing this," because I have a lot of practice with it and know the words and everything.

What was the audition like?
I was very nervous ... Before I've only had to perform in front of people I know, but nothing like that. It was just very overwhelming. I didn't know what to do, except sing. I felt safe once Adam turned around, I felt like I was gonna be in the competition. So that helped some, but I was still nervous.

You had three coaches to choose from. Why'd you pick Adam?
Well, I didn't pick Christina because even though her voice is beautiful, I'm not really familiar with a lot of her music, only some of the old stuff she sang back in the '90s. Cee-Lo, I really wanted to pick him, but what he said, it wasn't convincing like what Adam said. So I chose him because he said I could be next in line, and I really love The Temptations.

Can you give some background on growing up in the city, and what made you move to Indianapolis?
I was born on the West Side, moved to the South Side during my growing up stages, so that's what I really remember. There was just a lot of violence going around. Pretty soon me and my friends started fighting a lot, because that's when you become a threat, when you get into high school. Right around 16 or so my life changed. Dudes would get jealous a lot when girls liked me because I had talent. It was just a lot, and it got a little too bad.

So my mom just took me out of Chicago. At first I didn't really want to go. That stuff was just a part of where I've been all my life. But then when I moved, it was a great decision. My head got clear, and I started to make better decisions because everything wasn't happening so fast.

What are some of your favorite spots in the city, to eat, hangout, whatever?
Well, I like to go to Nick's Gyros on 79 and Ashland. Hmm, what else? I like downtown. Downtown is great, no particular spot. I just walk around with my friends. Oh, and I like Millennium Park. Millennium Park is nice.

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